Lake NyosAug. 21, 1986: Without warning, a water-filled volcanic crater releases an immense, lethal cloud of carbon dioxide. The reasons for the sudden release from Lake Nyos in Cameroon (at right) are still not fully understood. The death toll, originally estimated at 1,200, later rises to 1,700 people.

Aug. 21, 1999: Arsonists take a match to the Kirby Tire Dump in Sycamore, Ohio, igniting an immense blaze.   While quick emergency response prevents the fire from spreading to the all of the 25 million-tire dump, the fire costs $2 million to extinguish and causes serious local air and water pollution.

Aug. 21, 2009: An oil rig in the Timor Sea explodes, resulting in the worst oil spill in Australian history. Millions of gallons of oil spill until the well is capped ten weeks later. Indonesia later demands $2.4 billion (U.S.) in compensation for damage to its fishing grounds.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

This feature is compiled by Peter Dykstra, an MNN contributor and publisher of Environmental Health News and The Daily Climate.